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Spanki's Tips on Reading HSF Reviews...
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Old 24th June 2008, 22:27   #1
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Icon17 Spanki's Tips on Reading HSF Reviews...

Will come in handy if you ever wonder about buying a new HSF and want some info:
1. Pay attention to the cpu being used for testing...

If some site is using a X6800 (raise your hand if you own one of those) that defaults to 2.9GHz, chances are that not much voltage adjustment is taking place in it's OC tests. Voltage = heat.

2. Pay attention to the platform being used for testing...

A cooler that performs well on an AMD system may not necessarily perform as well on an Intel system (or visa-versa) due to mounting mechanisms of that particular heatsink on each platform.

3. Pay attention to the 'load' test software...

If one site is "Looping the Far Cry river demo" and another is using CPU-Burn, Orthos or some other means of heating up the chip, you will see huge differences in results.

4. Pay atttention to the ambient temps...

At least one user has run tests and found that each 1C of ambient temp rise equates to 2C cpu temp rises. Even it it's only a 1:1 ratio on your system, that can often mean the difference in 1-4th place on some of these lists/comparisons.

5. Pay attention to the fan being used...

The Thermalright heatsinks don't come with a fan, which means the reviewer has to decide what fan to use. If one reviewer is using a Noctua 800 and another site uses a High Speed Delta, then one is going to get super performance (at the expense of his hearing) and the other is going to get less performance, with the luxury of hearing himself think. Some of the best reviews I've seen test with various fans - including using the same fan on each heatsink - to give a better idea of how the heatsinks perform.

6. Pay attention to the site's motives...

Related to #4, above, a site like Silent PC Reviews is obviously more interested in "silence" before everything else - including cooling. So, be sure to look at the voltages used on the fans in thier reviews. Similarly, other sites may value "cooling at all costs", so.. be sure to pay attention to the fans being used if you value your hearing .

7. Pay attention to the test conditions...

If one site is testing on an open-air test-bed and another site is testing inside a case, thier results will differ. If one site tests in an Antec 900 case and another tests in some un-named case with no case fans enabled, thier results will differ. In addition, top-blower heatsinks will help cool other motherboard components, but if the testing is being done with no case fans, they will be at a disadvantage to side-blowers which, by design, push air out of the system.

...basically, there are many, many valid reasons why two different sites can come up with differing results, without resulting to conspiracy theories or labeling one site's results as being more 'correct' than another's. Not to mention the things like sample variances and human factor - TIM being used, how long or if it was let to setup, application of TIM (skilled reviewer vs non-skilled, good days vs bad days, etc), mounting pressure (maybe one reviewer cranked down harder), vertical vs horizontal testing (maybe that 800g+ monster is 'leaning' off the cpu under it's own weight), etc.

In short, it's not wise to compare site A's reviews with site B's reviews and expect an apples-to-apples comparison. It's probably also a good idea not to treat any one site's numbers as the "absolute gospel truth answer" that HSF A performs 2C better than HSF B (better to think in terms of 2-3C pread 'ranges' of heatsinks). If you read enough reviews and pay close enough attention to the test conditions, you can start to get a good feel for which heatsinks fall into which brackets.


1. Users who show up in a forum and ask "what's the best heatsink?"
2. Forum members who think they can answer that question without first understanding what the questioner means by "best"...

- best looking cooler?
- best cooler from Thermalright?
- best cooler that's not Thermaltake?
- best cooler with an LED fan on it?
- best cooler with a red LED fan on it?
- best cooler that comes with a free case-badge?
- best cooler that can be purchased from Newegg?
- best cooler with an easily replaceable fan?
- best cooler at all costs?
- best cooling per dollar spent?
- best cooler that can reliably be transported to and from lan parties without HSF removal?
- best cooler that still allows them to remove thier mb tray without first removing the heatsink?
- best cooler that doesn't require removing the mb to install?
- best cooling for least amount of noise on a non-overclocked cpu?
- best cooler to fit thier odd-ball case setup?
- best cooling for thier massively overclocked cpu to fit thier odd-ball case setup, that they carry to lan parties, making the least amount of noise for under $40 shipped to alaska? (good luck on that one, btw ). other words, if you (the "generic" you) don't ask an intellegent question, don't expect an intellegent answer - we have no idea your priorities or prerequesits are.
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Old 25th June 2008, 09:02   #2
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1 tip to beat them all: Only read the Madshrimps HSF roundups.
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Old 25th June 2008, 09:47   #3
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no! that's just my point, read from different sources to make up your mind
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